'Dorm Life' Series Spoofs College Experience

By Sergio Published on .

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Production: Attention Span Media, founded by Garrett Law, A.J. Lewis and Peter White, got its start doing contract work for local TV stations and companies in need of video elements. It was during one of these gigs, where they created 1,200 clips for a mobile phone greetings company, that they met Chris Smith, a UCLA student brought on board as extra hands. In June, the Attention Span guys and Smith began discussing ideas he developed with six members of his college sketch-comedy group.

Enter "Dorm Life," the debut Web series from Attention Span's full-service production studio. The series, created, written and directed by Smith and his comedy troupe buddies, takes a mockumentary format that follows the lives of 10 college floormates. It's like "The Office" set in a dorm, with late-night cram sessions, floor talent shows and intramural football. Some of the writers, including Smith, also star.

All of season one's episodes were written during an eight-week period by seven writers, who laid out the whole season before shooting. Pre-production lasted three weeks and the entire series was filmed in 16 days at a local college dormitory during the summer. A two-month post-production period followed, which included editing and Web site design. Production of the series cost an average $8,000-$10,000 per four- to 10-minute episode.

The launch of the series' site, Dorm-Life.com, was put on hold until February to coincide with the beginning of the typical college semester, lending the show a believable time frame.

Dorm-Life.com takes the form of a corkboard featuring current episodes and bonus features such as cast photos and Webcam shorts shot during production. The site is intended to be completely interactive; it allows the cast to take creative freedoms with Facebook and MySpace profiles and message board posts, which Brian Singleton, Attention Span partner and vice president of creative production, feels "enhances the whole experience."

Result: Dorm-Life.com launched Feb. 4 with four episodes, with a new episode added every week thereafter. To date the series' videos have been viewed more than 1 million times through the main site and its distribution partners. The series' content is hosted primarily on Veoh, but also syndicated through other Web video services such as Blip, Metacafe and DailyMotion.

Dorm-Life.com has had over 500,000 page views, servicing 65,000 unique viewers. The site's mobile content, available through Radar.net, has raked in 49,000 downloads.

The producers hope to generate revenue through strategic ad partners, such as CampusFood.com, that integrate with the series' collegiate theme. Law said there has been more potential partner response after launch, and they plan to keep placing ads "in a way that makes sense." The site charges $20-$60 CPMs for banner ads, with rates based on partner specifications.

Because the series finished filming before launch, it was difficult for the producers to incorporate product placements within the main episodes. For the series' second season, which is still in talks, they hope to make more physical placements while keeping the show's aesthetic intact.

"Dorm Life's" first season—or semester—ends later this month.

Updated: Viewer numbers, 5:13 p.m.